The Council of the EU has adopted new rules intended to make it much easier for EV owners to travel across Europe, while simultaneously helping to reduce the output of harmful greenhouse gases.
The new regulation is set to benefit owners of electric cars and vans in three ways: It reduces range anxiety by expanding the EV charging infrastructure along Europe’s main highways, it makes payments “at the pump” easier without requiring an app or subscription, and ensures pricing and availability is clearly communicated to avoid surprises.
From 2025 onward, the new regulation requires fast charging stations offering at least 150kW of power to be installed every 60km (37mi) along the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network, or (TEN-T) system of highways, the bloc’s main transport corridor. The fast charging network along European highways is already pretty robust, I discovered on a recent 3,000km (2,000 mile) roadtrip with a VW ID Buzz. This new law could all but eliminate range anxiety for those sticking to TEN-T roads.
The good news is the regulation mandates that charging stations along the TEN-T “core” road network — the most important roads linking major cities and nodes — should be capable of at least 400kW of total output by December 31st, 2025. This includes having at least one charging point capable of an individual output of at least 150kW. By December 31st, 2027 the regulation requires at least 600kW of total output and the same individual charging point requirement of at least 150kW.
Some charging stations are marketed as 150kW right now, but then limit output per charging point cable so EV owners don’t always get the speedy charge they were expecting. The new regulation will mean there’s at least one charging point at these stations capable of the speedier 150kW output, which is essential for some current EVs that can handle 350kW and future models that will undoubtedly exceed this.
Mandated deployment of EV fast chargers along the TEN-T “comprehensive” road network — roads that connect EU regions back to the core network — will happen on a longer timeframe. The regulation still requires a maximum distance of 60km between fast chargers, but they must have a total of at least 300kW of power output, with at least one charging point capable of at least 150kW by December 31st, 2027, but only for at least 50 percent of comprehensive roads, expanding to all of them by the end of 2030. By December 31st, 2035 those charging stations should be capable of at least 600kW total output with at least two charging points capable of at least 150kW output. Lightly trafficked roads or locations that just don’t make socio-economic sense can be excluded from the requirement.
The regulation also requires that ad-hoc charging payments can be made via cards or contactless devices, without requiring a subscription. That should make it possible to pull over to any charging station from any network and charge your EV without first hunting for the correct app or signing up for a subscription. Operators are required to clearly list prices at their installed recharging points via “electronic means,” including wait times and availability.
In addition to covering owners of electric cars and vans, the regulation also has deployment targets for recharging heavy-duty electric vehicles, and addresses maritime ports and airports, as well as hydrogen refueling for both cars and trucks.
The new regulation is part of a so-called “Fit for 55” package of initiatives meant to help the EU reach its goal of reducing greenhouse emission by 55 percent before 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Transportation is said to be responsible for 25 percent of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, with 71 percent of that coming from road use.
Now that the regulation has been formally adopted by the Council, it has to progress through a few formalities before entering into force as law across the EU.
“The new law is a milestone of our ‘Fit for 55’ policy providing for more public recharging capacity on the streets in cities and along the motorways across Europe,” said Raquel Sánchez Jiménez, Spanish Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, in a press release. “We are optimistic that in the near future, citizens will be able to charge their electric cars as easily as they do today in traditional petrol stations.”
Update, July 25th 6:25AM ET: Article updated with charging speed information.